The Back Nine: Could be a September to remember in sports world

[Courtesy of UAA]
The Back Nine comes at you after a week off where I was either playing golf or cleaning the garage and the latter was much more relaxing.
10. We are about a dozen days away from Decision Day when it comes to the SEC, ACC and Big 12 deciding how they will handle this football season and the numbers have not been encouraging in the last week. Apparently, some people feel it‘s more inconvenient to wear a mask to go to a store than it was to wear a gas mask on the Western Front during WWI. But I am holding out hope that we will have a fall season, in part because I’m not sure a spring season will be very compelling when so many players opt out. Obviously, I am like most people who believe safety comes first and I trust the people in charge at a place like Florida. But here is something that might brighten your day. Let‘s say they decide to go conference games only, but do add a couple of Power Five opponents because they trust their testing protocols. And we start Sept. 12, a couple of weeks late but not so late that it won’t work. Think about how glorious it will be to sit back and have to choose among college games that aren’t against directional schools, the NFL, the Major League Baseball pennant race (more of a spring actually, but who cares?), golf‘s U.S. Open and the NBA playoffs. After watching countless reruns of old games, we deserve a September like that.
11. One thing Matt Hayes of Bleacher Report pointed out is that he has talked to some athletic directors who believe there will be a plethora of night games so that teams can fly in and fly out in a day. I would also think that home teams would be less likely to put their teams up in hotels (it has always seemed to be a waste of money anyway). This is going to be a different football season. Let‘s just hope that there is one.
12. I thought it was interesting that the great Phil Steele came out with his All-American teams and Florida had one representative — Kyle Pitts on the fourth team. That‘s the thing about this Florida team that has been getting a lot of love during the extended talking season. There aren’t a lot of guaranteed stars on the team, but the better you know the team, the more you know about its potential. At some point, we will be voting on a preseason All-SEC team at our virtual Media Days (I hope) and it‘s really difficult to come up with Gators to put on the first team. Pitts, probably Kyle Trask, maybe a couple of defensive backs. This league is so loaded with great players it’s difficult to get on the first team in the preseason, but easier after you show what you can do on the field. Last year, neither Pitts nor Jon Greenard were preseason All-SEC choices but made the team.
13. I have been playing around with my AP vote for the Top 25 and All-American teams, which aren‘t due for another week or so, and it’s pretty difficult to decide between Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields as the first-team quarterback. As far as the poll goes, it‘s interesting to send a ballot in before we really know what everybody’s schedule will be. For example, there was a story that lasted about three hours that Alabama would play Notre Dame to start the season. That was killed quickly by Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne. The Irish have a team that I want to put at the back end of the top 10, but who knows what teams Notre Dame will end up playing because it has already lost a quarter of its schedule? I‘m a big believer in considering a team’s schedule before ranking that team because what is the point of ranking a team high when you know they‘re going to lose a bunch of games? I’m looking at you Texas A&M 2019.
14. I saw where a French soccer league decided not to give its awards for the best players in the league because of the pandemic and that makes sense. It also made me think about a question I received from a ranger at the UF golf course last week — will they give a Heisman Trophy out if this is a truncated season? Last week, a bunch of the Watch Lists came out (which I immediately deleted; I‘m already going to be watching) and you can’t help but wonder how it will work for any of these awards if they play, say, six games and head right to the playoffs. What if the Big Ten or Pac-12 decide to wait until the spring? It seems we are going to have some football in the spring, so do you eliminate all of those players? Just one more thing that makes this whole thing so complicated.
15. I watched a lot of the Memorial this weekend and it turned out to be a real snoozer even with Jon Rahm getting a penalty because his ball moved at address. Rahm is now No. 1 in the world and good for him. But what I was really keeping an eye on was the Florida Open and it turned out my man JC Deacon, the Florida golf coach, stormed through the tournament to win it for the second time in four years. The cool thing was what he said after the tournament. “I wanted to be a good model for my guys,” he said. “I worked my butt off to get ready for this tournament.” Golf might be the only sport where you can teach college athletes by doing. Deacon was another one of those great hires that Jeremy Foley should get more credit for.
16. Are we ready for some baseball? Without fans? And with Chipper Jones sounding like someone just woke him up until he gets a couple of innings in? I watched a little Sunday night, but it wasn‘t the lack of fans that bothered me. It was the fact that these were exhibition games. I’m ready to do it once we start seeing games that count. I‘m not a huge baseball fan, but I certainly will be during the month of August.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Stewart Mandel from The Athletic — “If Alabama and BYU can agree on details of a game within a couple of weeks, please, for the umpteenth time, why do we need to schedule these things 15 years in advance?” Umpteenth and one.
18. Unfortunately, I have a fairly new computer and I feel like I am chiseling stories into stone now. But it’s coming to me slowly. Anyway, this is still a good playlist:
* Nothing is Good Enough“ by Aimee Mann.
* “Flagpole Sitta” by Harvey Danger.
* “Black Coffee in Bed” by Squeeze.
* “Karma Police” by Radiohead.
* And for an old one, I heard Firefall’s cover of the Beatles’, “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party and looked it up and they did a whole tribute album. I did not know that. That was the best one.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at